Last night my son left a light on in the bathroom after he left the bathroom. He then went to his bedroom, walked out and left another light on. My husband and I both reminded him to turn out the lights, saying that when he pays the electric bill he can leave whatever he wants on, but the more thought I gave it the more I realized leaving a light on for a few extra minutes probably will not break the bank or make my bill that much higher. There are plenty of big things we do that we can cut back on to save money.
The situation last night with the lights being left on is a perfect example, a little research will show that most of the electricity is used to run large motors or generate heat. The motors are compressors in your air conditioner and the refrigerator. You’ll find the heating elements in your stove, dryer and hot water heater. So if you want to save money on electricity, you’ll get a much greater return by concentrating your efforts on these appliances. At night, throw on an extra blanket to keep your heat lower or use an extra fan to cool you down. Try a clothesline instead of your dryer, not only will it save you money, but line dry clothes smell fresher and feel cleaner from the sunshine! Can you cook something quickly in the microwave rather than on the stove?
Another great example right now, interest on credit card debt. According to the U.S. Commerce Department consumer debt is now over $900 billion. That means that we’re paying astronomical amount each year in interest. What are we getting for all that the money? Well, we don’t have to wait to make our purchase. We haven’t avoided paying for it though. Because we use credit to buy we often end up paying 40% more for the privilege of taking it home earlier. So any time you can delay a big purchase it is worth it in the long run. It’s really like buying something at wholesale prices. That’s the type of saving that can add up quickly. For instance, you might be tempted to buy a new VCR. After all, it’s on sale for 15% off. But if you just put it on your card and pay the minimum each month you’ll be adding 40% to the cost. You’re actually paying 25% over retail. Some bargain! Especially for an item you may have never had, I see a new high definition tv on a commercial, it looks so much nicer than my old tv (But the old one still works great) so I go out and charge it, I never had the high-def tv to begin with, I did not need it, now I will end up paying even more than the actual price simply because of the interest!
Cars are another example. Suppose that you just made your last car payment.You begin thinking how great it would be to check out the new models. But if you’re willing to hold on to the old one for just one more year, you’ll save between $200 and $300 per month or whatever your car payment were. Even after repairs you’ll save a couple thousand dollars in that year. And you will be able to carry less insurance if you really want to save money and you feel comfortable with that, when the car is still technically owned by the bank you need ful coverage.
Also look to areas where you have discretionary expenses. That means areas where you have some level of control over what you spend. Food is a wonderful area for savings or learning to make your own cleaning products and making food from scratch, stockpiling or using coupons! I have written some great articles on saving money with coupons and make your own products . I especially love the idea of making your own cleaning products, taking extra time to make food from scratch, every day we hear about recalls and ingredients in foods making us sick, what better way to know we will be safe by knowing exactly what is in the products we use and food we eat than to make it yourself?
Finally, look for less expensive alternatives. Sometimes you don’t have to buy something to use it. Before you go shopping ask yourself if you could borrow or rent whatever you need. Maybe you a slightly used version would get the job done. The Salvation Army carries more than just used items, many stores will donate brand new items that they can not sell, I found a pair of sneakers, brand new, marked at $43 at Salvation Army for $3. Try Cragislist.com or even freecycle, DVD’s can be rented at your local library for free. Many churches have their own thrift shop and there is always yard sales!
Everyone wants to save money in todays economy. That’s true whether we’re talking about pennies or thousands of dollars. And it is a lot easier than you think, just being careful and having will power! Prioritizing what is important, do you really need a brand new tv when the one you have works fine? Do you need to buy brand new holiday decorations when you saw some nice ones at a yard sale, maybe they just need a dusting, or maybe you can wait until after holiday sales? Next year you can decorate exactly the way you wanted with discount decorations. There are so many ways to save money and we just need to look at the big picture and keep our eyes and minds open to eveyr possible way we can save.